Author: Angelica Kate

Why Write Popular Subgenres of Romance Books?

Romance is one of the oldest and most popular genres of entertainment out there. Books distributed in all the subgenres of romance reach billions of electronic, audio, and hard copies each year. Everyone wants to relate to their favorite romance story or dream of a fairytale romance that sweeps them off their feet. Romance fiction delivers this dream to its readers. However, it’s never just one storyline or genre. Here are some popular romance subgenres you should read.

What Subgenres are Popular?

Romance is an umbrella genre for a wide variety of subgenres. Here are six popular subgenres you should look into.

  1. Contemporary Romance- These stories are set in the present, anytime after WWII until today. Many will capitalize on stories in the news, popular culture, or other relatable plots.
  2. Romantic Suspense- This genre combines mystery and suspense with an overarching romance storyline to make quite the page-turner. Readers cheer for the heroine/hero to win their cause or crack the case, and along the way, discover their true love.
  3. Historical Romance- These stories are set in a period before 1945. They can be written by contemporary authors but are set in the past. These books take readers back to another time and place to discover romance in eras long gone.
  4. Young Adult Romance- These are romance books catered to late teens and early 20s. The romance is often messy, turbulent and reveals a deeper truth about the characters. Sometimes these feel the most underdeveloped, overly emotional, and say the least much as we all felt in those high school and college years.
  5. Speculative Romance- These stories are more futuristic or fantasy-based compared to the previous subgenres.
  6. Paranormal Romance – These stories tell of romance between otherworldly beings such as werewolves, shapeshifters, vampires, and other mystical beings and humans. The storylines are fraught with rules very different those most stories in the subgenres one to four above.

Why are These Subgenres Popular?

Everyone has their own opinion on what the best romance subgenre is, but these are some of the most popular options because of either their relatability, as seen in contemporary and young adult romance novels. Their mystic nature pulls the reader outside of their own life, with historical, speculative, and suspense romance.  

All of these subgenres are worth giving a try. When you find a category that works for you, it can be quite the page-turner. Since many will span thousands of words and numerous books in a series, romance can become addictive to read. Try out each of these subgenres and see what speaks to you!

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Zero to eBook in 30 days – Write your first book (part 6 of 6)

This is the final part in this series but for part 1 go HERE; part 2 go HERE; part 3 go HERE; part 4 go HERE and part 5 go HERE.

STEP 10: SPLASH PAINT ON A CANVAS

While your manuscript is out being vetted around, you need to focus on the all-important book cover and beginning the process of uploading to a platform of your choice. Hopefully, as the story progressed, you have a clearer picture of what this visual representation of this sizzling new romance should be to reel in all those unsuspecting romantics out there in the kindle or tablet universe. There are several ways to craft the best book cover:

  • If you are so inclined, try to do it yourself with free stock images, Paint, or some other such program.
  • If you know a great graphic designer like me, you can maybe work out a lower price or a trade-for-service option.
  • Try a site like Fiverr to find someone that can take your ideas and turn them into a great cover.
  • Search the internet for those that specifically do cover work and pay for this service.

Remember that the cover of this eBook will be what everyone sees on the sites were advertised first. It will be in all advertising, marketing, and other social media endeavors and should be representative of the entire story. You have seen thousands of books in your lifetime; think about what draws you to a book and put that into this cover. This is your first impression, and the single chance you must convince the reader to review the description and make a more informed decision to purchase this book.

Additionally, the back matter or general description of the book should also be compiled. This should give a brief four to the eight-sentence description of your book that will make readers wish to download your eBook when married with the cover art. Ensure that during this phase, you have one of the groups helping edit your book do this also. This needs to be concise, engaging, and able to capture readers’ attention amongst crowds of other eBooks they will encounter. At the same time, this back matter will probably not make it onto a published hardcover book (although there are options out there to do this print on demand, even if you self-publish an eBook to start).

This is a good point to point out that getting an eBook from start to publish in 30 days means you will do this by yourself on a platform like Draft2Digital or Amazon, or the like. That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to submit to traditional vanity presses or other options after publishing. And it in no way will limit these options; this is just to get those creative juices flowing and produce content worthy of public consumption on a deadline of 30 days to prove to yourself more than anything you can do it.

As you finish book descriptions and have the cover art ready to go as the editing phase in Step 12 is finishing, you should also write up a brief biography. Read other authors’ bio(s) and take notes as a brief research assignment. Then put together one for you that tells your story in highlights and broad strokes. Where you are from, what you do, and writing, family highlights, and maybe a weird habit unique to you make a good read for author bio(s). At this stage, if you haven’t done so with all the material ready, you should be able to, on some sites, list your book for pre-order if you so choose. This will allow you to start marketing the release, start your author pages on platforms you will be publishing to, and starting into Step 13 (Marketing).

STEP 11: GIVE IT OUT TO THE WORLD FOR THE TRAINING WHEELS RUN

You have run the marathon that is writing, Editing, blurb writing, and cover creation in this race to the romance finish line, and the publishing step is up next. Can you see the finish? Are you ready for that celebratory dinner and some mental health counseling? Good. As for a calendar check, we are peeking on the verge of day 30 at this stage. We need to download the requirements for whatever site you intend to submit this new publishing gem (obviously, Amazon KDP is the biggest and easiest platform for new authors).

This is my word of advice; if you don’t intend to follow through with Step 13 and do the marketing for this book, it will get lost in the big ‘ole fishpond called Amazon. Only the strongest survive and make it out of the initial publishing phase. You will need to follow the marketing plan laid out below and tap into another additional skill set to see this romance eBook go anywhere. Amazon holds a hostage market of readers to its bosom, and thus it is by far the best-sourced reading platform out there. Remember, though; you can’t publish anywhere else for 90 days if you go with the Unlimited version. Again, I would reach out via Meetup groups, Facebook, and other mediums to talk to authors who publish on Amazon and those who have diversified outside the platform. Most will go this route for the first release and learn with them before making any additional moves.

Please remember that should you do Amazon Unlimited, it might limit the sites you can put your book for review. Now reviews will be critical, so several sites allow you to upload, and reviewers take your book for free and provide reviews. I know why to give away free books – well, you must spend money to make money, and reviews in publishing equate to moola baby if they are good. More people are reading your book, and that showing in reviews is important. Through social media, you will want to find people outside your direct circle that want to read your book. This releases a PDF version or MOBI version of your book for reviews is critical and leads directly into the next step.

STEP 12: NOW THE YUCKY PART – MARKETING

Social media is a two-edged sword these days; along with all the negatives of people getting into your business, it is how our world communicates. For those with a product to sell, such as this gem of a romance you are about to finish, you MUST have accounts on platforms such as Facebook, Bookbub, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, and on and on and on. If your private life, you probably already have some presence on one of these, that is the best one to start with. You will get support for your new venture and use it as a jumping-off point for publishing this new business. And if you believe you get to be a writer and someone else is going to do all the hard work of marketing your book, then (1) you got a traditional publishing contract right out of the gate – congrats; of (2) you are independently wealthy and can afford to hire an army of personal assistants to get your website up, or marketing banners did, and your social media accounts managed.

If neither of those two things is a reality, I have some bad news: writing this romance was the easy part. Remember me saying in step one this was going to be uphill both ways, well you foolishly thought as you finished writing this next blockbuster, all your work was done, and then you turned the corner, and the marketing behemoth monster that appears in your line of sight. There are so many options out there for independent authors today: the good news; the bad is – there is no magic combination of great writing, Editing, and marketing that guarantees the success of a book. It is a lot of hard work, great writing, timing with a smidge of luck that determines who makes it to the top of the mountain.

HAVE A PLAN! As we finish this race and move to step 14, you must have a launch plan if you will ever see even a fraction of success at this publishing game. Book two should that be a tiny voice niggling in the back of your head by this point, will require some level of success for book one. Raffle copters, groups on Facebook, reader review sites, tweets and ads, and the like, oh my will inundate you. YOU are the master of your destiny, so dip the toe into the water, do your research and find a trusted group out there in the cyber universe that resonates with the genre, marketing, and style you feel comfortable with and draw from their experience. Remember, this is not over when the book releases – it is just the beginning, and you need a road map planned out for how you intend to navigate this eBook release home.

STEP 13: PULL IT TOGETHER – AND HIT THE BUTTON

Take a deep breath—one last full read of the manuscript with your edits and those who helped this first round. Ensure you have downloaded whatever formatting guides you are going to need for the platform you are on. If you are an artsy type, make a banner for the new release to be used on your social media – easy to do in Paint or Fiverr runs great $5 basic ads by professionals. Put it all together and start the upload process.

As we are going with the assumption of self-publishing for this first eBook, the platforms you use are good at directing even the beginner through basic formatting and getting it ready for publishing. Pay attention to margins, preview options, and this is probably by far the most important place in this journey to pay attention to the little details. Often, you are blocked from making changes during publication, and thus, a single oversight can be out there for the public without your ability to change it. You cannot preview enough!

  • Look at chapter breaks; if you put hyperlinks in for chapters for quick navigation are, they all working?
  • Do the page numbers in the bottom of the pages or the top in you are so included look right?
  • Is spacing throughout the book consistent?
  • What did the formatting tool call out for errors to correct? Did you fix everything?
  • Did you assign yourself as an author? I know, but this has happened.

You will be nervous through this final stage, and when the moment arrives – you will sit back and have second thoughts. What if people hate it? What if you forgot some glaring issue? What if – what if – what if?

PUSH THE BUTTON! As the tear rolls down your cheek, realize it is out of joy and gratitude, and you did an awesome job. As you now wait for it to become live on your first site, call whoever is your biggest fan and share the news. Your mother, spouse, father, best friend, or cat – doesn’t matter, share it – this is a HUGE moment! You finished a bucket list item. I wrote a great romance eBook and accomplished this lofty goal in 30 days! Who would have thought it possible? You! That’s who. Relish it and wait patiently until the moment you click on the website the following morning, and there it is in big news “The Great Romance” by and your name follows. Then get onto all those social media sites we prepared early and tweet, Facebook it out, take Instagram shots of the page and tell the world – you are an author!

Photos courtesy of Pexels

Zero to eBook in 30 days – Write your first book (part 5 of 6)

This is part 5 of the series. For part 1 go HERE, part 2 go HERE, part 3 go HERE and part 4 go HERE.

STEP 8: RELEASE THE HOUNDS

Now it’s time to call that group of people who told you they could help with reading, Editing, or feedback. As you are now starting to feel the cramping of the calendar closing in on that 30-day mark, ensure you are comfortable that these people will be able to provide the level of feedback in a quick turnaround. You will want to make copies of the manuscript at this time, as this is normally the easiest way for people to edit and put notes on. Some may have a program they are comfortable with, and you can output a Word doc if you trust them to put in track change mode and give suggestions in that manner (other programs provide the ability to track changes on documents, so go with what you are most comfortable with and make it easiest to garner these responses quickly). The other benefit of electronic versions is that you can get them back via Google Docs, Dropbox, or email and don’t have to worry about schedule coordination to pick up the manuscript with notes on it.

You should instruct this group (and you must mean it) to be brutally honest. Give them carte blanche to tear it apart; you need to get this feedback and find as many concerns as possible with this sizzling eBook before the public, who have no loyalty, gets their hands on it. You want to ensure the story flows, errors, grammar questions, and other general housekeeping of any kind are done by this individual or group.

This is the stage at which you might have an editor join your team down the road. Unfortunately, while good at writing, the best writers sometimes end up missing concerns when they work on a project too long. Having these additional resources on a book before publishing is so critical to the outcome. Even traditional publishers would always have books edited, and these are authors that may have put out ten full-size books already or more. This is important to wrap your head around because you need to understand that this group of people will provide feedback, and it is going to be tough. You think you are so close, found all the errors, and this romance will be at the top of the bestselling charts. This is the best thing you have ever done, and everything is all downhill from here. Then the first group of feedback comes in and knocks the Wind out of your sails.

STEP 9: GET THE TISSUES AND MAKE SOME HARD CALLS

Whether there wasn’t enough romance, too much romance, they don’t like a character, or the punctuation is not the style they prefer. Seriously ellipses versus dashes will become a serious argument in some circles. This is the point where you will question friendships, doubt your writing chops, and probably shed a tear or two through this final critical step of Editing and making hard manuscript change decisions. You must remember that books fall into a thousand genres because people like different themes, so the feedback will be stinted by personal preference. It will be your job as the author to keep your voice and weigh feedback for relevance and action on your part.

Sentence structure, story flow concerns, punctuation, and grammar, should all be addressed. Whether you decide on changes or incorporation, these are the first rule of thumb items that should not be ignored. Remember, if they found something they weren’t comfortable with, others will also. Meaning, even if in an attempt for dialogue, slang, or other excuses, something is written the way you intended but is part of the feedback – you might wish to make changes. In the end, you are the ones readers are going to critique, so all this work is suggestions only, but worth its weight in gold as I am a precursor of what a wider audience might report.

As for story flow objections and other opinions – these are again just that – opinions! I’m certain you have opinions daily that differ from your friend, but sometimes you let them win, and sometimes you get the final word. This is no different, but the stakes are slightly higher than those conversations over grilling and football on Sunday – I know even more critical than football! This is a piece of art you will be delivered to a worldwide audience (no pressure!). In the end, other readers will dislike your writing, hate the storyline, and not read another piece of work by you – this is expected. You can control this feedback to ensure that whatever changes you do accept add value to your piece of romance art. You need to truly evaluate what feedback would add to the story, which would devalue your vision of the story and incorporate and keep the process moving without letting this step slow your process – or even if you get too intensely setback by the feedback derail it altogether. At this stage, I tell people to go out and find their favorite author on Nook, iTunes, or Amazon and one of their favorite books by them. Go down to the comments and feedback section. Ignore the five stars and rave reviews by so many and focus on the one-star and subpar reviews. It helps put things in perspective; even prolific writers have their critics and have gone through this process – keep the march going. Don’t take too long, though, because you need to be at day 28 at most by the time; we finish this step if that big looming 30-day mark becomes a reality.

Photos courtesy of Pexels

Writing

Zero to eBook in 30 days – Write your first book (part 4 of 6)

This is part four of the series for part 1 go HERE, part 2 go HERE and part 3 go HERE.

STEP 6: ORGANIZE THE CHAOS

Now comes the fun stuff. NOT! This is when you must put on your suit of armor and wade into this travesty that is the first draft of the next best-selling romantic eBook. If you followed the steps laid out this far, you should know who your characters are and a general flow of what the story was intended to be when you started. The final draft may not resemble that yet and needs a bit of spit shining. To get a good grasp on exactly where you stand, do the following checklist check on this draft:

  • Is the story in a consecutive timeline that makes sense?
  • Are there any glaring holes in your timeline?
  • What about the story? Does it make sense and flow organically?
  • Does the climax or obstacle that the heroine needs to overcome for true love develop and deliver the emotional impact desired?
  • Do the naughty scenes have the right heat level for the audience you are trying to reel in?
  • Does everything flow – keep asking this because it is one of the biggest concerns you find in books?
  • Copy and paste everything into a general cohesive timeline that moves the story at a pace you find more aesthetically pleasing to a reader. Put on that reader hat, and not critiquing overly the writing (there will be time for that).
  • Ensure that everything is in the same font, spacing, and indention format.
  • Clean breaks where chapters appear to have formed; make those more concrete with chapter headings.
  • Do high-level punctuation, grammar, and conciseness check by word or whatever processor you are using? If you don’t have one, I like Grammarly. Please note this won’t take the place of a good edit but gets chaotic first drafts a margin more palatable at this phase.

Now, you feel you have done all the edits. You need to print this manuscript out, or if you prefer, a tablet on which you can make suggestions in the text. Take a deep breath, roll those shoulders to work out the kink. And start reading.

Where gaps come up, fill them in and expand areas that weren’t as developed our first time. You will find everything from incomplete sentences or sentences that run on for half a page. Put on your reader goggles at this stage of the writing, and test the story, plot, characters, and background elements how does it flow together. This isn’t yet the time to truly critique anything but the story. At the end of this critical phase, we should have this thing that looks like a manuscript for an eBook. By this time, you should also start being attached to these characters, and flaws in their development and interactions will become more self-evident (fill those in). Jumps in timelines that are jarring – sew them up nice and neat.

Work through this until you sit back from your desk and feel like you don’t have anything else to put on paper. With a big, huge smile, you will feel the accomplishment of this moment. As a reality check, we should be about 15 days into our writing journey to that 30-day sizzling eBook. Relish this moment because the next steps are the yucky parts, and you will try your reserve to stay on course. The little light you see at the end of this is called – published author. Bully through these next ugly processes.

When you do a format, check the document in a format that would be enough for publication. If you have a huge font, because you are nearsighted – maybe take it to a Times New Roman, 12 point or smaller, which is more standard for the general populous. Chapter headings, page footers, and the like should all be visited. At this stage, an initial title of the work is more than likely tinkering around the edges of your mind, so jot that down, and we will get feedback in future steps on that when we get some help on the meat of the book itself.

This step shouldn’t take more than a day at best, as we are again marching to a 30-day clock. Besides, this won’t be the final edit by any means; we want it in the clearest format possible to finish moving forward. You should have no major glaring mistakes in the plot, character development, or the like. If you feel that the character development is lacking or have too many players at the table and make the story untenable, kill them off with your pen. Paint scenes that are clean, cohesive, and flow. This is your chance to take all the previous steps and present a draft to yourself that now truly should resemble a book manuscript. Page numbers, chapter headings, and the like are all present. The flow is good, the punctuation is checked, and you are feeling cocky about your efforts. You think this is the next great American read that will get you out of that day job and on to a beach living your dream existence.

Calendar check – when you set the manuscript down and consider this first full draft complete, we should be sitting at day 18 or 19 at best.

STEP 7: OLD FASHION HIGHLIGHTER THEORY OF EDITING

Now the hard steps follow – read this new gem of a writing achievement critically as if someone else wrote it. Imagine your worst enemy in school had written this paper, and you are given one chance to tear it to shreds. Use that level of evilness and take a red pen to this manuscript. I’m not kidding. Forget how connected you are and truly read through this as if seeing it for the first time. Make a contest with yourself on how many mistakes you can find, and a reward is tied to the numbers. This is where I use my Highlighter Theory of Editing and use those bright, colorful highlighters we gathered in preparation.

For the highlighter colors, assign a reason for each color; for instance: green is for bad sentence structure, pink spelling concerns, and maybe yellow for areas you need to rewrite. If you are a sticky note person, I will use them to mark the pages in similar color formats that need attention on my printed version. The bright colors I find less off-putting than big red marks that traditional proofreading and editing use require many symbols and notes. This is a quick way to get through a minimum first critical edit quickly and efficiently.

At this step is when I normally take to a room all by myself because I have found that in addition to Editing for punctuation, grammar, and flow, reading this out loud points out a lot of opportunities to improve. As you give the manuscript life through words, clumsy sentence structure, dialogue that sounds stilted, and a host of other concerns with the overall cohesiveness comes to light that is just reading it in your mind’s eye don’t always find. The other thing that is reading aloud does is make you refocus on the words and hear them and see them.

You are fully aware that the more you look at something, the less likely you will find errors with it. Have you ever read an email three times, and immediately upon sending, a co-worker comes up chuckling about a verb usage or there instead of them? These oversights happen when you are too close and have read the same thing multiple times. Your trickster of a brain can make you believe it flows. Trying to read things aloud gives an entirely new perspective and finds those minute gaps in a text, grammar, and story flow.

After the Editing, of course, you should go back to the manuscript and make all changes. This is a rinse and repeats step. Continue to run through these editing functions until you are sitting in front of a screen as good as you feel capable of doing at this stage. As a good calendar check on our march to 30 days, we should be sitting on day 21 or 22 at the end of this step when ready to open your final product for outside inputs.

Photos courtesy of Pexels

WRiting

Zero to eBook in 30 days – Write your first book (part 3 of 6)

This is the third part of this series. For part one go HERE, and part 2 go HERE.

STEP 4: JOT IT DOWN

This is the place where everyone goes wrong; if you are going to write the next best-selling juicy romance, then you must start writing! How many people have you talked with that would LOVE to write a book, have a million ideas, when they watch movies, they could do it better and yet – have never written down a single word. If you make a list of those people, you could fill a few writing volumes without any storylines needed. You must start writing to get to where you are headed, and that doesn’t mean sit down and outline every nitty-gritty detail until you are so obsessed with an outline that the twenty-five years have passed in your obsessive-compulsive perfection-seeking quest. Start TODAY!

I never leave home without a notebook in my purse. This is not a neat journaling endeavor that I partake in but feel free if you want to do that. My notebook looks a lot like the inside of my brain and is a scary place for anyone to visit. I keep sticky notes on my desk in my office and home, and many times something someone says or a thought crosses my mind, and I job nonsensical reminders on the sticky note and put it in my book on the appropriate page bookmarked for story ideas. Unfortunately, I would never recommend having so many projects going at one time; we will focus on one for you. But as you start to think about this story, it will come to life, and inspiration should strike at the most inopportune moments. Jot them down. The book isn’t for full sentencing or complete chapters – although if so inspired, go for it. Writing and creative thinking is like a muscle that must be exercised, unfortunately, it doesn’t always flex when you want it to. People, life, and events will trigger moments that will add value to your plot and should be taken down for prosperity.

Now, this little keeper of written inspiration goes home with you and onto whatever writing space you designate for your more serious writing adventure. As you start typing, and this should occur daily, but we will discuss that shortly, take these gems out of your journal, notebook, or whatever vessel you choose and look at them. The juices are simmering, and the story is coming together from that napkin outline above to a paragraph, then a chapter, and soon – well, 30 days from now it will be something people will want to read, but we have lots of lovemaking, kissing mishaps and tension building scenes to construct to make that happen. This should become a regular, daily occurrence of gathering inspiration and verbally throwing it up onto storylines in cyberspace. I always recommend typing as we are on a deadline here, and while writing may work for some people, it is aggressive to keep that kind of redundancy in our timeline toward publishing greatness.

STEP 5: ORGANICALLY LET THE STORY FLOW

As for daily writing and ensuring you jot, type, regurgitate and create daily, this is CRITICAL to your success. You must set a goal and stick to it, no exceptions. If you are an early riser, and 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. daily is your goal, then you sit your pajama-clad bottom in the chair and stare at the screen if you have nothing working through your fingers to the keyboard. If you want to give 14 days of your 30 for the first draft of a 10,000 novella, then you type no less than 666 words a day and don’t set a timeline for this. Whatever the goal, you must set it and stick to it; in this project plan, you have must reach critical milestones if we are going to be ready to hit that button to deliver our romance gem to the world on day 30.

Now comes the part you are going to either HATE or LOVE – the story flows organically based on the simple napkin outline, the cast of characters you created, and the tiny gems you jot down during the day. The story will come as you sit facing those keys in front of you, reach out and start. Sometimes you will just need to put the title on the page; sometimes, you start a paragraph describing the main character. You are then followed by what they are doing for a job. Where did they meet this love interest that you know they will end up with? Keep asking yourself questions and keep typing. Hit your word count or time in front of the computer screen EVERY DAY, no exception. And keep typing, don’t fix the mistakes you invariably will make. If you think that you could tighten up something you already finished, go ahead,

I remember once writing one of my first novel-length offerings, and I was in the car just typing my little heart out. In a critical scene, I couldn’t get the tone and the interactions the way I felt they needed to go. After taking a small break and stretching my legs, I got in and started letting my brain take charge of the story, and it went to war with my heart. This was a romance story, and the happily ever after dictated that the heroine conquer an unbelievably bad antagonist. I let the words flow as the scenes played out in my head until two hours had passed, and I looked up visibly shaken. My daughter looked at me and asked what the problem was; I just stared back at her and said, “she died.” My daughter was so confused and couldn’t understand how I didn’t just change the ending to be something else, but I couldn’t force it in the direction I wanted. The happily ever after was a bit supernatural in tone but ended up working.

Great authors and writers see these scenes play out in their minds, like a movie on a screen. Let the words flow, and don’t stop worrying about punctuation, grammar, dialogue, and all the buzz words you hear in the publishing field. There will be time for that; let’s keep you writing and letting the story flow. As you get further into this project, you will begin hearing the voices. Yep, good news, the voices writers hear can’t be silenced by medication, just by writing their stories out on paper. As you begin telling a story, this funny thing happens where you will suddenly and clearly understand how a storyline was to progress, end or turn a corner at the most inopportune moments. Remember the “Jot it down” step, pull that tool out and take note – when you can get back to your manuscript – let the story flow from your fingers.

This is not a nine-to-five job, and there is no perfect formula. You will figure yours out as time goes along and your writing process refines. Right now, let the story come out through your fingers; remember you should have a goal every day of a word count or a time spent staring at a screen if we are going to hit that 30-day mark – and time is continuing to march. Obsessing is a killer of deadlines at this stage. If you get the most horrific 15,000 words on a white background – you succeeded where thousands of others have failed. Take all that gibberish and give it structure that someone other than you will appreciate in the next few steps.

When you hit the magic word count, or maybe the day, you simply know the story is done. Then let it simmer. DO NOT GO on to step 5 until at least 24 hours have passed. This is critical as you need to give yourself emotional space and prep for the next phase. Writing is physically and more emotionally taxing than you ever knew before you flung yourself into this new arena. Between tasks, you really need to give yourself a mental break to switch gears.

Photos courtesy of Pexels

Writing

Zero to eBook in 30 days – Write your first book (part 2 of 6)

The second part of the series starts here to read the first go HERE.

STEP 2: LET THE IDEAS FLOW

Most people can provide a general synopsis of the romance they want to see brought to life on paper, maybe made into a movie down the road when it is a best seller. These big, huge ideas don’t always translate to a substitutive storyline with all the key elements to carry a story from beginning to the climax and still have readers attached to finding out the happily ever after.

And before you ask – YES, romances ALWAYS need a happily ever after! It does not matter if it is a series of novellas that keeps readers on edge through twelve volumes and a drawn-out set of scenarios or a short story that must capture the reader and deliver a short read that doesn’t allow them to even pause for a bathroom break. Happily, ever after is the main ingredient to the best romances, no exception! And to ensure the ending is properly setup and the reward at the end of a great story, you must scope out a feasible storyline.

How do you get the loosie goosy plot at best to a formulaic plan for the next great romance? Grab a pen, a couple of girlfriends, and a glass of wine, and spitball ideas. Seriously, if you are going to get this project completely done in 30 days, there is no time to waste. If the ideas only come from your brain and haven’t been vetted, I have bad news – somewhere around step 12 in our 15 steps to a sizzling eBook in 30 days, you might have to head back to a drawing board and blow your ambitious plan of 30 days to published author. Start on this step, and get input from friends, mentors, teachers, whoever you think will be the most productive sounding board. It can be one other trusted soul or a group effort. This person or group will probably be part of the beta reading and feedback step down the road. Including them in this phase adds additional layers of buy-in down the road to help you output the best eBook possible.

Why write it down on a napkin and not a computer with endless space to type all the ideas you are thinking? Because the best outline of a book should be able to fit on a napkin, a large sticky note, or something that size. A full sheet of the paper outline, probably too dense in the planning at this stage, and a lot more writing involved to flush out the entire story. Overthinking the book at this stage, over-planning, and in general just allowing all the input to overwhelm will derail this ambitious plan. So, take that napkin, and spitball out some general flow for the story until everyone is giving you that – “I would read that” glow and finish your drinks by swapping boyfriend and husband stories, or at the very least the best romance story you just finished.

Let this grand scheme germinate in your brain for the next few hours, and when you get up tomorrow, take two aspirin if you partied too much and grab a notebook, journal, post-it notes and be sure you have it your handbag or backpack as you carry on with your life. This critical tool of your trade will become self-evident as the saving grace to this plot to take over the publishing world in future steps. If you are on task here, you get your first check mark on the task list of eBook publishing fame – and off we go!

STEP 3: ROLL CALL

Now that we have a general idea of the story, you probably have the main heroine that will meet the dashing prince – no wait, be the CEO of a massive international corporation who hires a lowly male assistant? Whatever the story, the cast of characters must come next and do not start writing this eBook without roll call on your character list, or you are going to regret it about 5,000 words in when you have 32 people you have introduced to the story, can’t remember their purpose and the spellings of their names is all jacked up!

A Character list is our next critical part of housekeeping to keep this romance writing train chugging along to the station of completion. We must have a clear and concise list of people written into the story and let me be clear – the list should be short and concise. You cannot develop full backstories, develop the arches for 50 people, and bring this romance to life. We need a protagonist, and in romance, that could go a lot of directions. Are you writing contemporary romance, reverse harem, harem, erotica, sweet love stories, or something out of this world (literally!)? Whoever will be given the crowing title of protagonist ensure their back story, general characteristics (hair, height, optimist, military, dwarf) whatever it is on this brief roll call of characters. And then, of course, no good romance can include one person, so flesh out the person who will woo them, fight with the protagonist, make the story pop.

And please, let’s not forget the antagonist. Every good protagonist needs a villain, jealous ex-lover, sweet competing childhood sweetheart, or someone else who will further the book’s climactic arch. This person will never win but must be well-developed enough in the story to cause turmoil with the reader for the story to keep them turning those pages (or swiping the pages on their electronic versions as technology now dictates).

Finally, supporting characters that ADD VALUE to the story. Please remember this it is critical to see interactions, dialogues and, in many places, propel our story toward the finale and that all-important happily ever after. This should be enough to vet the story fully, but not enough to confuse readers or the author when trying to keep them straight, develop the story, and bring it home without overly complex writing.

Please remember this is our first sprint to the finish line; you aren’t writing Gone with the Wind here as that took over 30 days to pen. Your story must be feasibly written in the first draft inside of two weeks to allow for our other steps, it must engage the reader pretty much from the first sentence, deliver a story that they care to find out what happens, and most importantly, get reviewed with the holy grail of five stars so this same reading bonanza will happen reader after reader.

Put thought into your characters, keep them brief, develop a clear and concise list of them and make bulleted reminders on a sheet of paper or a document on your computer for reference. This should include their proper names and ages also as a reference. I know you are thinking, what the heck can I remember how to spell a name? And I can present you with 100 editors who will tell you names are always WRONG in at least one place in a manuscript. So, minimize your errors by putting a little bit of time into this all-important roll call so you can quickly reference it once the writing has begun in earnest.

Photos courtesy of Pexels

Writing

Zero to Finished eBook in 30 days – (part 1 of 6)

You read all the Fifty Shades books, watched every Hallmark movie made for television at Christmas, your kindle is filled with romance titles, and you have sat through enough romantic comedy(s) to quote lines in daily life. Through it all, you sit in awe, and disgust knowing you could do better with the storylines, development of characters, and you are determined your name will be in the author byline of a book one day. Quit dreaming about writing that book you tell every friend is rattling around in your head and resolve to do it.

The author of Fifty Shades, Romancing the Cowboy, and a million other titles took a spin on the publishing lottery wheel and won – why not you? Of course, you will need to act and follow a few simple steps because, just like a great education, writing takes effort. There is no magic fairy wand you can swing in the air, and the book in your grey matter magically appears in front of you. Resolve to taking all those dreams and putting them on paper in the next month. Awesome, now you have a deadline that even those procrastinators out there should be terrified by and set to action immediately to hit. You have thirty days after all and not a lifetime to accomplish this lofty task.

This blog series will take you through the following tried and true format to make this once unattainable goal of writing the next great American romance a reality. We will make this simple:

  • Prepare for Uphill both Ways.
  • Let the ideas flow.
  • Roll Call
  • Jot it down.
  • Organically let the story flow
  • Organize the chaos.
  • Old Fashioned Highlighter theory of Editing
  • Release the Hounds.
  • Get the tissues and make some hard calls.
  • Splash paint on a canvas
  • Give it out to the world for the training wheels to run.
  • Now the yucky part – marketing
  • Pull it all together – and hit the button.

It seems like a doable list, right?

Great, let’s see how far we get before you give up and go back to simply dreaming of writing a great romance novel. For those special souls out there, you will be the ones that are determined to get to step 14; you never give up on a task when you set your mind to it. This book is for you – and the roadmap to fulfilling your bucket list of publishing a romance eBook.

STEP 1: PREPARE FOR UPHILL BOTH WAYS

Now you have images dancing in your head of writing this great romance, the money you will roll in, and the fame that will allow you to meet Brad Pitt someday. Slap yourself and wake up from that dream – this is going to be hard work, lots of tears, and at least 60 times before we hit day 30, you will think about giving up (go ahead, start a sheet to keep track). In the end, you will work tirelessly to market and promote, and when your first 100 copies are sold, you will wipe a hand across your brow in giddiness, forgetting everything we are about to go through and want to try again. First, though let’s get this excursion into writing started. You will need a bit of preparation before we start it off; here are some general first-time author ideas – this will evolve over time and to your style, but here is a good start.

Ensure you have access to a computer; the laptop is better if you wish to write someone other than your house. You will need extended access to a computer; even if you choose to write this long-hand, it must be typewritten for submission. Next, ensure you have a printer available. Everyone thinks currently that you can do everything on a computer, but many of those you will ask to edit, beta read, or provide feedback will want hard copies. Suppose you don’t have a printer but can do a store that makes prints fine but do a quick return on investment. Cheap starter printers are so inexpensive that by the time you copy the manuscript just a couple of times, it will pay for itself. Highlighters in bright, cheerful colors, red pens, and I like sticky notes, but some are good with just highlighters, and we will discuss the critical tool down the road. Ensure you have at least one if not upwards of ten friends willing to provide HONEST (critical) feedback. You will take criticism from these people better than that first horrific review, so be sure they are willing to provide you unfettered feedback and editing services on this first foray.

If you can or know someone that can professionally edit your manuscript, keep them on the back burner. This is a luxury that many first-time authors can’t afford and don’t know how to access. With the tools, we will give you, and if you have the friends willing to help, we will bring this first book to publish with your insight and their help. If you continue this crazy writing journey, you will make connections and seek out editors, or maybe not if someone in your circle ends up being a great resource. Also, Meetup or other apps where you can find writers, editors, and others in this industry that meet can be a great free resource of support. You read and provide feedback for their articles, books, etc., and in return, they do the same for you.

Lastly, ensure you can minimize distractions for the time you intend to write. A separate writing space again may not be a luxury that the first-time author can afford, but ensuring you have time when the kids won’t interrupt incessantly, dinner doesn’t need fixing, friends are due in from out of town, and the list goes on is critical. You can’t give your writing the attention it deserves if you are constantly being pulled away. Trust me; you will go back and read this choppy, horrific slop and get made at all the interruptions. For me, I get up god awful early at 4:45 a.m. every morning to ensure I have a solid hour and a half of writing under my belt before the day begins. This was a lesson I have acquired after years of experience writing and being interrupted without successfully meeting deadlines on my projects.

Finally, give yourself a pep talk and or have a solid friend give it to you. Quiet the voices of doubt, insecurity, and disbelief that you can do this before taking flight on this trip. I have a favorite saying, “what would you attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Failure will occur on this trip in some form or fashion, but not trying is the biggest failure of your lifetime. We are checking off bucket list items here, people, and you are about to be part of the small crowd that accomplished a goal few in the grand scheme of things can put on their resume of life. Being aware of the insecurities and bumps coming will not allow them to derail you when they invariably occur. So, prep yourself, get that favorite inspiration saying up on your screen, plastered to your wall, and square your shoulders for this uphill ride – both ways!

Photos courtesy of Pexels

Writing Advice

Writing is a Solitary Venture – Publishing is Not

Writing is the most solitary of careers. Crawling inside your head to tell the stories of characters others have never met is a unique experience. Most of us will beg for quiet as we work our way through getting these new tales down on paper. You can’t be chatting with coworkers and writing or fixing breakfast and writing, and so most have “writing caves” to help facilitate the creative process. The concern is that this most solitary of careers must become the most public and k when that same work becomes ready to publish.

Find Your Army

Many writers I know are introverts that enjoy the entire process of writing start to finish; publishing, though, is not their cup of tea. It’s not the process of getting the book to readers, but the garnering reviews, marketing, social media, and a million and one other details that must be considered to now make that story reach its intended audience. This is where finding your army of helpers is critical. Those critical resources can take your manuscript and help you find new and unique ways of getting it into readers’ hands—the resources to launch it to traditional literary agents if that be your desired course to publishing. Luckily in the technology age, our army no longer has to be physical, in-person people but rather those we can find in many corners of the internet.

Ensure Support and Positivity

From a good editor to beta readers that provide helpful feedback on the book, you need to have those you trust in your corner the minute you finish the manuscript. This is a hard and thankless job that can easily go to the side of the road and never see the light of day if the wrong team gives you advice after pouring blood, sweat, and tears into it. I can’t tell you the number of people I have met, even friends that immediately let go of the publishing dream after a solid writing experience because of someone’s sharp-tongued, mean-spirited advice. The right resource needs to help you balance good solid feedback to ensure you tweak, edit and rewrite pieces of the work needed with the support your confidence needs to continue forward. Many people out on social media and even publishing use a razor-sharp tongue to hold many hopeful authors back. Find those that can make you better at your art and bolster your confidence along the way and ignore the rest.

Resources

Social media has become a great resource not just for marketing but networking also. Readers and writer groups have popped up in various forums and platforms to collaborate on writing prompts to the best promotion sites available to authors. Arguments on traditional and indie publishing can also help provide the input for your path to getting your work seen by others. This can be a bit overwhelming when you see all the “vanity” publishers and “experts” out there that will inundate your box. Wading through to find the voices that resonate with you, and then truthfully, a bit of trial and error will be needed to find the best resources. Work the system, build schedules for marketing, networking, and other activities away from your writing that fit your current lifestyles and goals. At the end of the day, though, remember it is the writing that started you down this path, and it is the writing you will need to return to continue publishing.

Balance is probably one of the hardest tasks I have had to master in my writing career. From scheduling time for posting to social media, blogging, website maintenance, and then word count goals for the day, this is not an easy or part-time gig in any way. Finding the quiet time to write and then balance that with your business’s public side for the other aspects of publishing can be difficult. The good news is so many others had come before and paved the road with amazing opportunities if you know where to look. Just remember, find someone that helps build you up, doesn’t just blow smoke in your face, and helps take that first draft to a published book the best it possibly can. That moment when you find your book on the shelves of the major distributors out there – it will all have been worth it. Happy writing!

Photos courtesy of Pexels

The Secret Ingredient – Write Something Every Day

How many times has someone asked you, a friend, or maybe even an online forum what the secret is to writing a book? Most people who write for a living will respond with one shred of undeniable truth – get writing. I know it sounds simple, but people tend to procrastinate, organize and overall talk themselves out of big goals all the time. The ones that finally attain an impossible appearing goal, such as finishing their first book of poetry, that novel that has been rattling around their brain, or a blog for their first content piece, have something in common – they sat down to write. The secret is that the piece you see will never have been their first effort; they probably have numerous drafts in the recycling bin before that. The difference is they kept trying.

Good writing or even just finishing a writing goal such as a short story to a novel is evidence of putting forth the effort to accomplish what others will not. Yes, ten thousand words or three hundred thousand seems an impossible task, but five hundred may not. When I first considered organizing some of my writing into something consumable by a wider audience, I struggled for about fifteen years. I had journals, so many started manuscripts and about six thousand ideas. I would stop and start, give up and leave there for a year and finally go back. Then one day, I went to see a presentation by a pretty well-known author who was speaking at the local University, and that moment changed my life.

He said he never writes a single book in one go of days and weeks. Normally, multiple projects, doodlings, and musings are scattered about his journal or laptop before the final work takes shape. What he did do, was write every single day. Set a goal – five hundred words a day, no exception was his challenge that I walked away with and have done every day since. And when I say every day, I’m not kidding. In a decade of publishing now, probably less than a handful of days have passed without me writing. I carry a journal with me to jot down thoughts, I always have a laptop with me, and my family knows I will write during some part of my waking hours. In fact, I recently had a pretty bad day and considered going to bed without writing, and my daughter asked me exactly how bad I was feeling, and I should possibly go to the doctor.

The other recommendation I took from my fateful presentation all those years ago was to carve out a place in the home that was your “writing” or “working” space. That place that when you sit your butt in the seat there, it is writing time, and nothing should distract from that. He again emphasized nothing should interfere, not social media, cute cat pictures, or the like. Oh, and don’t worry about editing and how good it sounds from the onset – just write. This is crucial for me and something I do to this day. If I don’t feel inspired to work on one of my current pieces, I write a blog, write articles for clients or ghostwrite. Yes, variety for me has been a savior as now I have written nearly 300 blog posts for various industries and people; I have over 125 books total from novella to novel length for myself and others for whom I ghostwrite. This allows me to have options when I sit to do my “work” and get my words each day. I will tell you that five hundred word minimum is now 5,000 words a day in a decade of writing. Yes, that seems impossible, maybe from where you are now – but it can be done.

Now, remember that the first five hundred words are just a stepping stone to great things. Next, it will be a thousand, then five thousand, and soon your finished book. Don’t spend copious amounts of time editing so heavily as you write; discouragement will take hold. Let it flow. Whether it is handwritten in a journal or on a laptop, sit down and write something today—your thoughts, story ideas, or simply what makes you made. Like so many other skills exercising the ability to write soon breeds confidence and your ability to finish that writing through editing and then to publish. You can do it – make today that first day in your writing journey, and let’s see where it can take you.

Photos courtesy of Unsplash

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